Trends and Disparities in Sexual and Reproductive Health Behaviors and Service Use Among Young Adult Women (Aged 18-25 Years) in the United States, 2002-2015

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Abstract

Objectives

To describe trends in sexual and reproductive health behaviors and service utilization among young women in the United States.

Methods

We analyzed data from 8835 female respondents aged 18 to 25 years from 4 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, from 2002 to 2015. We used bivariate and multivariable logistic regression to compare rates of self-reported sexual activity, sexually transmitted infection-related care, and contraception use over time and by race/ethnicity.

Results

Sexually transmitted infection-related care and human papilloma virus vaccination increased from 2002 to 2013-2015, whereas sexual activity and contraception use remained stable. Compared with White women, racial/ethnic minority women were less likely to report effective contraception use, and Black women were less likely to report human papilloma virus vaccination; these differences did not change over time.

Conclusions

Sexual and reproductive health service utilization increased from 2002 to 2015 among young women, whereas sexual activity remained stable. Overall, rates of recommended care were low, and racial and ethnic disparities persisted.

Public Health Implications

Young women could benefit from clinical interventions and health policies to increase recommended care and reduce disparities.

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